Is the future of fashion Demna Gvasalia? Is it the smartwatch? Or is it… plus size? Given the general trend towards larger waistlines globally, that’s a growth area that easier to guarantee than a tech product category we’re not quite convinced we need and a disrupter designer who likes to deconstruct and reconstruct classics.
Which is why JC Penney is including a major plus size launch in its turnaround programme.
The recovering US retail giant yesterday announced a major dive into plus size with the introduction of Boutique+, its first-ever plus-size fashion brand designed exclusively for the full-figured, fashion-minded millennial shopper.
As part of its debut in 500 stores and at jcp.com beginning May 1, JC Penney will partner with Project Runway winner Ashley Nell Tipton who will serve as brand ambassador and design two upcoming capsule collections.
“There are millions of incredibly stylish full-figured women who are seeking comfortable, well-fit clothes that offer style and versatility,” said Siiri Dougherty, senior vice president of women’s apparel at JC Penney. “[We’re] committed to winning her loyalty by designing an entirely new brand and creating a dedicated shopping environment that respects her time and budget with affordable plus-size fashion that takes into account diverse body types.”
The naming of Tipton to the brand ambassador role is an interesting move. She was the first designer to present a plus-size collection during the Project Runway finale and her profile in the US is very high. For AW16 and pre-Christmas, she’ll introduce an exclusive capsule collection, Ashley Nell Tipton for Boutique+, marking the first time that her designs have been made available by a national retailer.
Penney said the Boutique+ brand offers “feminine silhouettes, edgy patterns and bold colours”. For spring, it will showcase styles inspired by the 70s. That includes tops and dresses with floral and Paisley prints, plus vintage denim, on-trend fringe tanks, tiered blouses and pleated skirts ranging in price from $12.99 for a top to $39.99 for a jacket.
JC Penney is also debuting an all-new in-store concept called The Boutique in over 200 stores. The company said the new environment “will give the full-figured customer an elevated environment for shopping a curated assortment of classic and modern fashion” from brands such as a.n.a, Boutique+ (of course), Liz Claiborne, Worthington, Alyx and Bisou Bisou.
Designed to resemble a boutique shopping environment, these newly revamped areas feature new fixtures, contemporary graphics and accent walls, as well as a display of plus-size mannequins to show how various outfits can be pulled together and complement a curvy figure.
Ranging in size from 980 to 2,800 sq ft, The Boutique will be a one-stop shopping destination for plus-size casual sportswear, denim and active wear, as well as a collection of handbags, fashion jewellery and accessories. Everything will also be available online.